Deb and Dave left careers in Hollywood after cycling the continent of Africa and founded ThePlanetD for a life of adventure. Since then they’ve been inspiring adventure in everyone through trips to 106 countries on 7 continents. They’ve won numerous photography and blogging awards and Forbes named The Planet D one of the Top 10 Influencers in Travel for 2017.
1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
It was in 2000 that my husband Dave and I took a five-week trip to Thailand. We had spent most of our 20s working at our careers and spending very little time together. Our lives and marriage were stuck in a rut. We didn’t have any hobbies or interests outside of work and we spent very little time together as we were always looking to further our careers in the film industry and spent most of our time on set.
Those five weeks completely changed our lives. It was during our time in Thailand that we met people who were traveling for months around the world. We didn’t even know that was a possibility. We thought everyone worked, took a two week vacation a year, bought a house and did the same thing over and over again year after year.
But in Thailand our senses were ignited. We did adventures that we never dreamed of doing at home like rock climbing, trekking through the jungle, kayaking through mangrove forests and snorkelling in the sea.
We learned about a new culture and ate different food. We explored pagodas and monasteries and were in awe of the palaces and temples of Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
Before that trip, we weren’t exactly the adventurous types, we spent our weekends in the cities going to bars and nightclubs or watching movies. That trip to Thailand sparked our need for adventure. When we returned home more than a month later, we were inspired and excited about life again.
It was no longer only about work and careers, but also about reconnecting with one another and making the most of our spare time. Weekends were spent learning new skills like scuba diving and mountain biking. And we started planning for our next adventure and next set of travels.
After five weeks in Thailand 18 years ago, we never looked back.
2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
If we had unlimited resources, we would spend our time traveling through Africa. We love that continent and would spent several days seeing the gorillas of Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC. It’s expensive to see them, but if I had the funds, I would go several days in a row and go to each and every spot where we could see them.
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
We were mostly afraid of settling for an average life. I remember when we bought our first (and only) house, I sat in my living room crying while unpacking. I said to myself “Deb, you just settled” you are stuck with a mortgage payment and you will never be able to live your dreams.
But Dave is always an optimist and he said we will be able to have the best of both worlds. While living in our house, we continued to do local adventures joining a scuba diving club where we went diving every weekend, we bought seasons passes at the local ski hill so we could go snowboarding all winter long and we made plans on how we’d one day be able to make a life out of traveling the world together.
Three years later we sold our home and had some extra cash to start traveling again. The house didn’t keep us from living our dreams, it actually helped us to start searching for our dreams and making them come true.
4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
For travel we use KnowRoaming for international data and phone plans. It offers coverage in more than 180 countries and there are packages for only $7.99 per day. We also use XE Currency Convertor to easily check exchange rates and TripIt for flight, hotel and travel organization.
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?
I wish more people would visit the Middle East so that they can understand it better and not be so afraid of it. We loved visiting the countries of Jordan, Dubai, Turkey, Sudan, Morocco and Egypt and have always found the people to be so welcoming and friendly.
I would like to see more people travel to this region to understand it better and to see its beauty.
My mom: You have to be your own publicist. If you don’t share your success and accomplishments with the world, who will?
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
One of the most surprising moments was in 2003 when we were traveling through Myanmar. It was at the height of the Military Junta ruling and we were trying to avoid ever staying in government run hotels or taking government run transportation. It made for a very difficult month of travel.
We had limited funds and after a full 24 hour day of traveling to see the balancing rock of Kyaiktiyo. When we finally got to the gate, we were told we had to stay in the tourist guest house that cost $20 USD per person. For one thing, we didn’t want to give money to the government and two, we didn’t have that much of a budget. It was 2003 and we were traveling around Asia on about $10 per day. So this was a huge chunk of our budget and at the time in Myanmar, we couldn’t get money out of an ATM. So we decided we weren’t going to see it and would have to walk back down the mountain.
It was very late and the guards were shocked. They said. “It’s too dangerous.” But as we dug out our flashlights from our backpacks, a guard came running towards us telling us not to go. “The balancing rock is the star of Myanmar and you must see it!” They waived the fee and let us stay with with locals inside. We didn’t have to pay the tourist fee, we didn’t have to pay the hotel fee and we spent the night walking barefoot talking to all the local people who made the pilgrimage to see this sacred site.
8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
Our travels started small with short trips here and there. Our first extended trip was five weeks in Thailand and we came home from that changed human beings. Spending a longer amount of time traveling, always inspired us to do more with our lives. It seemed that whenever we went away for a month or longer, we came home to new opportunities and were open to new experiences.
We gradually grew to longer and longer trips over time. After Thailand we took extended trips to Europe and Central America. And then a few years later, we went to South East Asia for seven months and then finally Africa for 5 months where we cycled from Cairo to Cape Town for four of those months.
It seemed that with each extended trip, our lives took a turn for the better afterwards. I don’t know if it was because we were more interesting and exciting people ourselves, or if we had more confidence or if life just gives you more if you open yourself up to new possibilities.
But every time we travelled our lives got better. Now we travel full time and we have never been more content or happy with our careers and marriage.
9.)I travel because…. I love learning and experiencing new things.
Lastly, can you please recommend a resource for up-and-coming travel writers; this could be a course you know, a book, conference etc.
A great conference for aspiring travel bloggers is TBEX. They have 3 conferences each year. One in Europe, North America and Asia.
A good travel blogging community is Travel Blog Success or Superstar Blogging. They both offer courses and support for travel writers, photographers and bloggers.
ThePlanetD was started by Dave and Deb with the hope of inspiring people to step out of their comfort zone and realize their potential since that’s what travel has done for them. They believe that “Adventure is for Everyone” and that you don’t have to be an uber-athlete, adrenaline junkie or a part of the ultra rich to be an adventurer. All you need is the desire to achieve something more.